Golden Mile Businesses Get Facelift with Help from the State
By Paige Jones, The Frederick News-Post
Monday, October 5, 2015
For the first time, the Golden Mile Alliance received funding from Maryland’s Community Legacy Program to allocate to businesses along the U.S. 40 corridor for facade improvements. The Golden Mile Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the residential and economic climate on U.S. 40.
The nonprofit delegated $23,500 in state funding among three businesses that applied for the grant – Petersen’s Carpet and Flooring, Casa Rico and Vista Shops, according to Justin Kiska, the president of Golden Mile Alliance.
“We did want to break up (the grant) and not give out the entire amount” to one business, Kiska said.
The grant matches up to 50 percent of the project’s costs, allowing business owners to update and upgrade their facade with a financial break.
Grant money at work
At Petersen’s Carpet and Flooring, news of the grant came at the perfect time.
After years of use, the stairs leading up to the store’s front door were on its last legs. So, owners Gayle Petersen and Stewart Kennedy decided to give the entire storefront a facelift in the spring of 2015.
Renovations to the facade of the store, located at 1060 W. Patrick St., include a new outdoor stairway, a vestibule with heating, revamped lighting, a fresh coating of cream color paint, new red trimming and a large gutter to protect customers walking in from rain, snow and other elements, Petersen said.
She recalled the experience of one customer who had snow dumped down his back upon entering the store last winter. The snow had fallen from the roof of the building.
“That’s not going to happen anymore,” Petersen said.
The week they were scheduled to begin construction on the store, Petersen and Stewart said they stumbled upon information about the grants and immediately applied for funding.
“I think within the first 24 hours, Petersen’s Carpet and Flooring had already submitted one,” Kiska said, noting many businesses expressed interest in the grant program.
Once the application process was completed, the Golden Mile Alliance allocated $15,000 to Petersen’s Carpet and Flooring for facade improvements, according to Petersen. Stewart estimated the cost of these facade upgrades and improvements will exceed $50,000.
Although the grant only covers a chunk of the total cost, Petersen said she is grateful.
“It helps,” Petersen said. “It helped us to do a little… more than what we were originally going to do.”
Only about a week into construction, the facade of Petersen’s Carpet and Flooring is covered with clear plastic, shielding the ripped up flooring and missing front staircase from the elements.
The store remains open. Parking is available toward the rear of the building and a door on the side currently serves as the main entrance.
Petersen said they expect the facade improvements to be completed by early December to avoid the winter weather and attract customers who may have been deterred by the construction.
“We don’t know if we’re losing people because of the construction,” Stewart said.
Casa Rico, one of the other businesses to receive a portion of the state-funded grant, is nearing completion on its facade improvement construction, according to owner Ajay Prakash.
Renovations to the exterior of the Mexican restaurant located at 1399 W. Patrick St. include a fresh coat of paint, updated lighting, a new sign and other repairs, Prakash said.
“The building needed it,” he said. “It had not been redone in like five years or so. It really needed it and when the grant program came … that gave (us) incentive to do it right away.”
The Golden Mile Alliance allocated Casa Rico $3,500, nearly half of the total project’s cost; Prakash estimated the facade improvements will add up to about $8,000.
“Whatever I can get, I’m thankful for,” he said.
Work on Casa Rico’s exterior began at the end of August and is expected to be completed within the next week or two, weather permitting, according to Prakash.
“To do our best and look our best, is a natural,” Prakash wrote in an email. “The facade improvement grant came as a welcome gift – and will go a long way towards the revival of Route 40 West.”
Vista Shops, located at 1080 W. Patrick St., was the third business to receive state funding from the Golden Mile Alliance. Attempts to reach the shopping center’s leasing agents Friday were unsuccessful.